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Details: Category: Cycling | Published: 19 April 2012 | Created: 26 November 2014 | Hits: 4126
On Saturday, April 14 I drove out to London, ON for the last race of the winter/spring season at the Forest City Velodrome. I put on my fancy new RealDealRacing/LaBicicletta skin suit and shoe covers. I was ready to get areo (except I forgot to shave my legs and face).

The race night called for my favourite race to be up first: this miss and out aka the Elimination Race. This race is won from the front as every three laps the rider that crosses the finish line last is eliminated. I discovered back in January that the way to finish with a good placement is to get to the front of the pack and stay there preventing ANYONE from coming over you. It's a harder way of racing because you spend 8-10 mins pushing wind. However, it works. I usually finish in the top 3 or 4. This time I was a bit luckier. When the race started, I came over the entire group and grabbed the front. I ramped the pace up which stretched the pack out. I listened to the announcer as people got popped off the back. It was down to me and two other riders. I was impressed. At this point, usually the left over riders manage to come over me, but that didn't happen. The 3rd ride got picked off and left on the track was me and one other guy. Apparently, he had been on my wheel the entire race drafting. At the last corner before the sprint he came over me, and I had absolutely nothing left to get out of the saddle and sprint. He won by a 10m margin. So, I spent 8 mins off the front of the pack going all out and came in second.

However, no good deed goes unpunished. Rob Good, the guy who runs the track and race night, decided as I went to the boards for the B 60 lap endurance race that I was too good for the B category and tossed me into the A category 80 lap race. I've never done a 80 lap race nevermind never raced in A category race. I did the last two races in A category. My reward I guess for riding full out for 8 mins and blowing the pack apart.

Racing with the Elite riders and tops sprinters of the track is a completely different from the B category. In the B category, racers charge off the front of the pack to ramp up the pace and, usually, never attack over the top of the pack. Rarely do they go more than 5 laps before the tire. The pack never usually stays at a ramped up pace for long. If one gets dropped, you can just keep going and eventually catch back on. Not so in the A race. First I almost caused a crash when I went to peal of the front, did a shoulder check, and heard "STICK!!". From the time it took me to shoulder check and pull up, three riders decided to attack over the top of the pack. Needless to say, the next time I pealed off the front, I looked as far back as I could see when I did a shoulder check. Of course, then there were the accelerations. These guys can ride fast. I just couldn't match their speed when they attacked.

I finished the races - dead last. In the 80 lapper, I was also a lap behind. But, I finished them. I expect it will take some time to learn how to sprint hard enough to keep up and hold their wheel. It was the same thing that happened when I started back at the track in Oct 2011. I had problems keeping up in the B races, and now I was coming close to finishing in the top 5 every race. So, it will take some time to learn how to race with the Elites.

I mention all this info because on Tuesday night, I rode with some Elite racers from my team, RealDealRacing. On hand were Ed Veal, Mike Mandel, and others. We found a loop to practice team time trail tactics and holding a tight paceline around the course. I had problems holding on as these guys are just that much better than I. It felt like being thrown in with the wolves like racing the elites on the track in A category or my first time at the track on the Wed night training. I have been riding a road bike for some three years or more and racing for two plus years, but I had never been in a situation to hold the wheel of a train of cyclists travelling 40-50km around a course on the road never touching the brakes and continue to pedal through the corners. I did managed to figure it out, but it was tough. I just do not yet (that is the key word: yet) have the skill to hold a wheel. I came away looking forward to the next time we do team training, but also with the sense I still have a lot to learn.

Of course, the only way to improve is to ride with guys that are better than you. I look forward to Wed night team training as much as I did Wed night race training at the track. I look forward to racing the track again the fall, and improving enough start finishing A races better than last place. This race season is going to be a season of continued improvement. Improvements that I hope will lead to a few podiums.